UNITEDHEALTH FOLDS SPECIALTY PHARMACY PURCHASE INTO OPTUMRX

UnitedHealth’s IT and health services business Optum scooped up Diplomat Pharmacy — a provider of specialty pharmacy services that’s licensed to dispense drugs in all 50 states — for $300 million and will fold it into its pharmacy benefits management (PBM) division OptumRx, according to Forbes. Specialty pharmacies focus on supplying costly medication therapies for patients with complex conditions — and specialty drugs account for a growing share of retail drug spending — so the buy should help bring in more business to OptumRx: OptumRx controls just under one-quarter of the US PBM market, meaning it’s tied for the second largest share.

This is UnitedHealth’s most recent purchase in a string of buyups aimed at building out Optum. 

UnitedHealth anticipates that half of its total revenue will stem from Optum in 2020 — and we expect the payer to make this a reality by continuing its strategy of using acquisitions to bring novel services to its IT arm: The insurance giant’s two acquisitions of 2019 —  PatientsLikeMe and Equian — were fused into Optum. As other big insurers build out their PBM segments — and as market disruptors like Amazon’s PillPack threaten to poach business — it makes sense for UnitedHealth to focus its efforts on OptumRx.